In February, just a few days after our Survey trip to South Sudan and actually one day after that crazy medevac we launched what was to be a 2-month outreach to the Kisii and Lake Victoria area. We had been travelling to these areas since November last year planning it and now it was time to launch!
So much happened at both but here is just a sneak peek at some of what took place .....
We had connected with the local pastor's fellowships who would host us and guide us to the areas that were most in need. They would accompany us each day and help with the follow up after we left.
Each night we would drive to a rural village centre, often a market, or a busy intersection. Get permission from the chief then set up a screen, speaker system and projector to show the Jesus film. The amazing thing about the Jesus film is that it has been translated into the people's local language, so they get to watch what might be the only film they have ever seen in their heart language, and what’s more it's taken directly from the gospel of Luke so its as if the people are hearing the word of God for themselves in their heart langue. An amazing tool that we thank the Lord and the Jesus Film Project for !!!
The goal of course is to be showing this film to people that have had no exposure or understanding of the gospel, and these are the people we try to find in the markets and village centres.
Each night a small crowd of between 30 and 100 or so would gather and watch. After the film finished a local pastor would give a short message, 5 to 10 minutes long, inviting people to respond to the Gospel message. They would also open this time up to pray for people. What an amazing ministry! Imagine the privilege of getting to do this every night !!! We would swap out for different nights and work with the local pastors of that region to make sure the work didn’t become too strenuous or monotonous.
The culmination of this outreach was going to be 2 large open-air meetings. One in the Kisii area and one in the Kisumu area. Thousands of dollars were spent on advertising through billboards, posters and handbills, radio, tv and social media. Our team went around with a large loudspeaker mounted on a truck and land cruisers announcing the meetings. We wanted to get as many people as possible to come and have an opportunity to hear the gospel. Once they came, we wanted to have a full program to address and help as many people as possible.
In the mornings a team of 40 from our local Universities Christian Union would go out on foot and invite people door to door to the meeting, they would also use the message to share a short gospel message. Becki, Bishop Allen and I would run a youth seminar in a hall with games and relevant teaching. Peter would work with all the local leaders and pastors training them and encouraging them. Hamisii would take the week to teach and train all the Sunday school teachers to equip them and show them different ways to be creative. In the meantime, Jonas, a German missionary who worked in Uganda was running a large football tournament on the main field. This was a week-long tournament that was aimed at drawing a crowd. During the halftimes and in the breaks there was the opportunity to do interviews, share short testimonies and have some singers and dancers on the stage. We were making full use of the time!
One morning we drove to the shores of Lake Victoria at 6 am to catch the fisherman that was just returning after a long night of fishing. These working people would not be able to attend the meetings but we could visit them. It was so special to see the sun coming up over the water and to share the gospel with these people. Peter preached a great message and he had a lot to say. Imagine his name is Peter preaching to fisherman on who’s lake shore he was born on over 60 years ago, there was a message just in that! I had taken our kids to give Jess a bit of a lie-in, and they climbed all over the car sitting up on the roof rack. It was a memory I'll enjoy for many years to come.
In the afternoons and evenings, we would start with a kid's program including silly games, competitions and puppets, leading into music, praise and worship followed by the main talk of the evening. At each gathering, the crowds would build and build into the night. Everyone seemed to be very curious to see what God was going to do, would there be any miracles? Would someone be healed? The curiosity was palpable!
I was given the task of coordinating and organising these outreaches. I found it very tough. There seemed to be multiple visions for what the outreaches should look like. It seemed the local pastors all wanted a “church event” some kind of revival meeting to encourage the church. While that isn’t a bad idea, it wasn’t what I had in mind. In my mind, the purpose of the outreach was to reach the lost. The focus should be on reaching the non-believer, that is why we were spending so heavily on advertising and having a football tournament. The problem was the boots on the ground wanted something different. I faced many challenges that I won’t go into here, but it's all learning for future events and outreaches. What's the solution you ask? I'm not sure yet, but there is always room for improvement. To me, the good news was the meetings felt a bit like a high school drama production, where out on stage things were flowing smoothing but backstage was chaos! Haha, what fun.
God is good, and many came forward to give their lives to Jesus. Over the 2 months, we had over 2,000 decision cards signed for first time decisions, and this is not including the many ministered to doing the cinemas, fisherman’s outreach and more.
Out here in Africa, it’s easy to see the harvest is ripe, and people are hungry and ready for the Gospel. As I look back at Europe and North America through the lens of social media, there too I see a ripe harvest. People are desperate and they need good news. I pray these stories can be an encouragement to you where ever you are. God is alive, He is on the move and He is drawing countless people to himself. It's so so so exciting and I can’t wait to see all these smiling faces in heaven one day because of Jesus.